Virgil had never really told his old uni friends what it was he did for a job. Some of them knew that he had gone to work for his Dad, but other than that there had ever been the need to go into too much detail. If he was honest, he didn't really put in a lot of active effort in maintaining the friendships, life often got in the way. He had floated around on the peripherals of a group chat, that mostly revolved around people posting photos of posh meals, fancy coffee and more recently a few baby photos. It was grounding in a way, those little snippets of normalcy, it made him feel slightly less remote from it all, and Hell, he could even add his own frothy coffee picture into the mix every now and again.
So it was a pleasant surprise when he received an invitation to the wedding between two of his university friends. It turned out knowing both the bride and groom equated to not just a wedding invite but also upgraded him to attending the joint “Stag/Hen-do” (the British equivalent of a Bachelor/Bachelorette party).
Apparently, they had decided that gender split parties were not for them and as they shared most of their friends, they had combined the bachelor and bachelorette party and the result was a weekend in a cabin with loads of activities planned throughout. Virgil had to admit that it did appeal more than other bachelor parties he had been invited to, but it was unlikely he would be able to attend, life would probably do its usual trick. He was half heartedly checking the rota for those dates when Scott came into the lounge.
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Whatcha doing?” he asked, doing his best Gordon impression, even down to the jaunty walk. He glanced over Virgil's shoulder “Rotas? Thinking of actually taking some time off? Shocking! DO IT!”
“Wow you’re surprisingly chipper, what's got you so excitable?”
“5 hours of sleep! But seriously, you should enjoy some time off, it's been ages, I’ll even give you a lift”
So it was that Virgil was dropped off within walking distance of a highwire activity centre on the edge of the Lake District to meet the rest of the party. Even if abseiling and an aerial assault course was something of a busman's holiday, Virgil had to admit that it was nice to get out and about without having to rescue anyone. He listened with maybe half an ear as a spotty teenager took them through the safety talk, he’d be checking his own lines himself anyway. The Bride and Groom-to-be had been decked out in Superhero costumes to complete the highwire course, with the addition of a few “L”plates they were all ready and made their way to the first zip wire set in amongst the trees.
In hindsight the capes were probably not a wise idea as “superman” got stuck by his cape half way down the wire. The teenager in charge went from zero to full blown panic in less time than it takes Clarke Kent to pick out accessories. While supervisors were radioed and accident forms hunted down, Virgil shrugged his shoulders, checked his harness and, with the addition of an extra line, lowered himself down the line gently until he was next to the snagged cape. Once he was lined up he reached down and pulled out a penknife from his boot and cut away the offending fabric, allowing superman to glide gracefully to the end of the zipline. Come to think of it, it was probably just as well Scott had dropped him off because he had completely forgotten about that penknife and it would not have gone down well with airport security. Once the line was clear Virgil slid down the rest of the route and reconnected both their safety lines at the other end, all before the on duty supervisor had even located a ladder.
The three members of the party who’d had a view of action from the platform let off a little round of applause, and Virgil stuffed the penknife back in his boot quickly before anyone could mention Health and Safety.
The next activity was an off road Jeep safari and Virgil was quite happy to be a passenger when they were split into groups. The Jeeps were fairly tame compared to his usual ride, and everyone else seemed so excited it was fun to just sit back and observe. Or at least it was until the Land Rovers engine spluttered out at the furthest point of the trail. Virgil was awakened from his general relaxed daydreaming in the back of the vehicle by rising levels of panic radiating from the front seats. On discovering that mobile phone signal was non existent, fumbling attempts were made to locate the walkie talkie they had been provided with and everyone tried to remember the instructions from the safety briefing. Virgil sighed, got out of the jeep and popped the bonnet up. Wrapping his overshirt around his hands to protect them from the hot engine parts he gave a few well placed wallops, before opening the drivers door, leaning over the still flapping driver and forcefully turning the key in the ignition. Bingo, they were back in action. Virgil quietly got back into the rear seat and relaxed back into his seat. The rest of the occupants of the vehicle, only one of whom Virgil knew from university, were staring open mouthed at their impromptu repair man.
“Virgil, did you just punch the engine into submission?”
“Umm, not far off, we’re lucky it's an older manual model, it's just a bit rattly” And with no further ado they were back on their way. Virgil just knew that if his brothers could see him now they would be mocking him for managing to get grease stained even when on holiday. He ducked his eyes down bashfully and went back to watching the scenery.
It is an old saying that these things come in threes, so Virgil was almost expecting it when they arrived at the cottage they were going to be staying in only to find that the electrics were out. The frothy coffee brigade started doing the phone signal dance, strutting around with their phones in the air trying to find that elusive few bars to call the letting agent. While all that was going on Virgil hunted out the fuse box and flipped the switches, which caused more panic by blinding half the people who had been starting upwards as the lights came blazing back on.
Right, he thought, that must be everything now, surely he must be off the clock now…. Even as he thought it he knew he had probably jinxed it.
Then everyone was milling around, claiming bedrooms , putting the kettle on (there was a sizable british contingent in the party, who seemed to be heavily reliant on tea). One of the girls in the kitchen had cracked open a pack of biscuits that had been left in a welcome basket ( because tea without biscuits was apparently a crime). Not long after the pre ordered Pizzas arrived and everyone congregated around the large farmhouse table to tuck in and reflect on the day. The descriptions of personal bravery grew more exaggerated as the drink flowed. Virgil chuckled to himself, it felt like a family dinner, with everyone trying to outdo each other. Although the adventure stories were a little more dramatic at home. He felt an elbow nudge him in the ribs.
“Tell them about the zip line!” his neighbour insisted, when he only looked confused they continued “you know, how you swung down and cut Darrens cape out, all daring rescue, it was impressive” Virgil shrugged in response, not really fussed about adding his story to the pile.
“Oh were you saying about Virg saving us in the landrover?” his neighbour on the other side leaned across him to converse over him. “We would have been stuck up there otherwise, Might. Have. DIED!” they added dramatically
“No, I was saying how he went full Tarzan and saved our fair Groom from certain death!” Virgil snorted at this one. He obviously wasn't the only one to find it funny as Graham at the end of the table started spluttering. Although a second glance had Virgil reassessing that statement as it became clear Graham was in fact choking, not that everyone else had noticed as the conversation had got quite loud. Virgil jumped up and, before anyone had time to make a joke about his rapid departure from the table, had come up behind Graham and given him a solid whack across the back. As unlike in the movies it is not always necessary to complete a full Heimlich maneuver to dislodge an item in the windpipe. Nothing happened, Graham continued to choke. Ok, so maybe this time it was like the movies, full Heimlich it was to be. One swift movement and the offending olive shot out of his mouth and bounced down the length of the table, effectively drawing the full attention of the rest of the party. Jaws up and down the table hung loose once again. Virgil realised that blending back into the peripheral was not going to be so easy now.
Before he had made it back to his seat there was a yelp from the woodburner behind the long kitchen table. Yes, someone had been faffing about with the fire and managed to burn themselves on the hot metal. Honestly, this lot were exhausting, how could so many university educated, supposedly intelligent people, be so utterly useless?
One choking victim deposited safely in a chair, Virgil went to his next patient and set them up at the sink to cool their burns. Thankfully the burns were fairly minimal and wouldn't require a trip to hospital. Counting this as a success he parked the burns victim in an armchair with a cold compress and went in search of a beer.
A minute or so later and there were panicked sounds coming from the kitchen, on instinct Virgil set aside the “real ale” someone was trying to convince him had a “complex flavour profile” and went to investigate. When he entered the room what met him was the sign of a young woman sat on the kitchen floor apparently having an allergic reaction to a biscuit of all things, another woman was clinging off her arm and telling her to be calm in that high pitched way that makes everyone anything but calm. Virgil ducked into the small space, and crouched down on his haunches to get into the young woman's eyeline. It was Jen he realised, he knew Jen, an energetic livewire who shared most aspects of her life with the group chat, absolutely no filters. Which turned out to be a blessing because it meant that Virgil knew that she had very recently been confirmed as having a coconut allergy. Yep, that would be the biscuits doing then, he eyed the offending half eaten snack where it had been abandoned on the floor.
“Hey Jen, did you get given an Epipen for that allergy?” he asked and she gave a frantic little nod, “Ok, did you bring it?” He really hoped she had, but kept his voice as calm as if he was only asking her to pass the salt. She waved to her bag, the contents of which was half strewn on the kitchen floor. A little light rummaging soon proved fruitful and Virgil placed it in Jens hands. She looked back at him with, if possible, even more panic. “Have you ever had to use it before Jen?” a shake of the head. “Do you want a hand with it?” She tensed up but still nodded, grabbing his wrist.”do you want me to talk you through it?” He had truly never known her to go this long without talking, usually she prattled along so fast that people had trouble keeping track. If the situation had been different he might have been enjoying the quiet, but ever the professional he calmly talked her through administering the Epipen. He then stayed sat on the floor with Jen while she calmed down, and shooed concerned parties out of the kitchen with one hand to stop her from getting too worked up again.
Virgil chalked another one up on the mental list of “at least we didn’t need to go to A&E”, silently cursing the fact that he had such a list, and that it was growing far too quickly. The rest of the evening was fairly quiet from an emergency standpoint. There were embarrassing Mr & Mrs games, lots of drinking and some off key singing. But Virgil was a little on edge throughout, just waiting for the next inevitable thing to happen. That coupled with some ever present jetlet, had him excusing himself before anyone got to the point of dangerous drunk, as he was afraid he might be required to intervene. Sometimes he hated being responsible, but this lot were a liability, and he’d never live it down at home if one of them actually managed to hurt themselves while he was here, worse still if any of the emergency services were required.
The next morning Virgil rolled out of his bunk (he had been too late when everyone was claiming beds and ended up with the bottom bunk in a room set up for family groups). It had been a snug fit. Jen was in the upper bunk and appeared to be hugging a large saucepan and wearing a large fluffy sock over her head, he was glad he had slept through whatever that was supposed to be.
A brief exploration of the ground floor seemed to suggest that nobody had got themselves seriously injured after he had retired for the night. He picked his way through the detritus that 15 adults under one roof seems to create. He let out silent praise to the god of hot beverages when he spotted proper coffee and cafetiere nestled amongst boxes of Yorkshire tea. Virgil would have bet ‘Twos front thruster that this coffee was Matts, if the endless coffee photos in the group chat were anything to go by, so he was fairly confident that he wouldn't get into trouble for stealing some. He nibbled on a biscuit while the kettle boiled, it looked like there were about 10 packs all open, and piled near the kettle. Was this some sort of British “Stag-do” tradition that he wasn't aware of, should he have bought a pack of cookies with him? Although by that logic there were also 5 large boxes of tea bags, he wasn't sure what the official ratio of Brit to teabag should be, maybe Lady Penelope would know.
He settled down on the sofa with his coffee and let the sound of the waking house wash over him. It was a fairly calm morning, he only got drafted in to fix the oil powered boiler since the showers all started running either ice cold or scalding hot, yes that was another grease stained shirt. Then he had to check up on his burn victim from the previous evening (all fine) and bat a pot of coconut yogurt away from Jen, who for someone with an allergy really didn't bother herself with reading labels. Then it was only one small domestic fire from hair straighteners being left on a scatter cushion and one splinter removal from someone messing about with the woodpile near the burner. A quick round dispensing paracetamol and pint glasses of water to the hungover and he was done. So yes, fairly relaxed morning.
Virgil was just sitting down with his hard won second coffee when the day's activities were announced.
If he hadn't been drinking such a nice blend Virgil would have spat his coffee out in shock, but too many years wearing an enclosed helmet had taught him to repress such urges. Who in their right mind was letting this lot near Axes, let alone encouraging them to throw them. He cast his eyes around the assembled persons, until he spotted the glint in Jen’s eyes, he knew that glint, it had definitely been Jens idea - god help them all. Jen was no longer wearing the sock as a hat, she had instead used it to tie her hair back in a loose ponytail. That told you all you needed to know about her really. Virgil was just glad that Jen and Gordon had never crossed paths, he could just imagine the mushroom cloud of destruction that would occur.
As everyone busied themselves with getting ready to go, Virgil resisted the urge to contact John and get the local emergency services on standby. He did, however, go and dig out the small first aid kit that was at the bottom of his bag. For once grateful of Scott’s worrywart tendencies. It only held the most basic of items, but he held onto it like a talisman as if he could ward off misfortune simply with its presence.
When they got to the outdoor activity centre Virgil was relieved to see that it seemed a lot more organised than he had feared. After a safety briefing, which he paid far more attention to now that he knew how incompetent his companions were, they were led to an enclosed range set up with heavy wooden targets.
The “Stag” and “Hen” were the first up to the bat and went to it with much enthusiasm. Virgil was glad the capes had stayed at home today. The axes themselves were not very large and everything seemed to be running quite smoothly. He began to think that he had been overly worried, Scott was right, once you started rescuing people, all you saw was potential disasters. It all continued swimmingly, each person getting a chance to let out some anger by flinging the axe at the wood. Some of the party were getting more theatrical on their turns, letting out the sort of grunts that usually accompany professional tennis tournaments. From these displays of exertion Virgil figured it must take some force to get the axe to bed into the wood. When his turn came around he lobbed the reasonably small axe at the target, momentarily forgetting he didn't have the resistance and additional weight of his usual exo suit to impact his swing. What had felt like a fairly relaxed throw ended up splitting the target down the middle and wedging the axe into the support strut behind it. Well that was embarrassing, even more so when the instructor couldn’t dislodge the weapon thereby taking one lane of the throwing range out of action. Virgil did offer to have a go at removing it himself, but the centre's insurance wouldn't allow it. He quietly excused himself from any further turns and settled down at a picnic bench with a takeaway coffee from a nearby hut.
At least he could enjoy being out in the countryside and it looked like he wasn't going to need the first aid kit after all, maybe his friends had used up their quote of stupid for the trip. He let his eyes close briefly and let the weak sunshine play over his face dappled as it made its way through the canopy of the trees around him. The next thing he heard was a shuffling limping step through the woodchip underfoot and it was getting steadily closer. He cracked open one eye cautiously, be better prepared for whatever new onslaught was coming his way.
It was Jen, of course it was Jen, limping in a pair of clompy boots which looked so box fresh you could still practically smell the shoe salesman's aftershave. In fact, now that he looked closer he could see the price tag swinging where it was still attached to the back of the shoe.
She plonked herself down heavily on the bench and proceeded to chatter away, not in the least put off by Virgil's shut eyes.
“Oh my god, my feet are absolutely killing me!” she exhaled “they said you had to have enclosed shoes for all these activities, which is all fine and good, but did I have any? No! I mean, look at these things.” she lifted one leg up for his inspection and he dutifully opened an eye to inspect said shoe, a bemused smile on his face. No other response seemed to be necessary and she merrily continued “I think I might actually have claustrophobic feet, they don't like to be enclosed, toes are meant to be able to wiggle!” Yes, Jen and Gordon should never meet. “I would sell my own hamster for a pair of flip flops right now”
“That's strangely specific,” Virgil laughed
“Well I just don't feel in the mood for loafers, you know, feel the need to wriggle.” she joyfully kicked her heels into the leaf mulch at their feet. “I think my blisters have blisters now”
Ah, there was his cue! Virgil dug out the first aid kit from the bottom of his bag and held it out to her “band-aid?” he offered.
“Oh my god, you’re my hero!” she enthused “do I have to give you my hamster now?” she looked so serious that Virgil couldn’t help but laugh.
“I don’t think a bandage can quite compare to a pair of flip flops” he said
“Well I can’t give you half a hamster, that would just be weird” Jen carried on still very serious whilst she tugged her boots off and dumped them in his lap.
“You do realise you've left the tags on, that wouldn't have been helping” he pulled the tag off and returned the boots to the floor
“yeah , well I should probably have put socks on too” she giggled bringing her bare toes up for all to see, each nail was painted a different rainbow shade “I forgot to pack any, I always figure that your feet dry out quicker than shoes - see, logic!”
“Seriously, you've got a sock in your hair!”
“ But that's holding my hair back.” she explained slowly as Virgil looked perplexed “It's also not mine”
“Dare I ask whos” he was dreading the answer, but at the same time couldn't stop himself from asking. This was Jens super power, she drew you into her slightly chaotic world as if it was all perfectly normal.
“You can ask, but I honestly don't know, but I guess it's mine now” she reasoned
During this time Jen had been adorning her feet with a patchwork of different plasters. Virgil glanced down and her handiwork and visibly winced
“I am loving these character plasters though,” this was accompanied by another toe wiggle, “Not judging by why do you have princess plasters? And enough for a full princess party at that”
“I honestly don’t know” he replied “but I would guess there's a brother with a unique sense of humour involved somewhere.”
“Oh yeah, there's a herd of you lot isn't there? Have they all got a tinge of the ginge?” he was stumped until he remembered that John had visited him at uni once. “Do you grow a ginger beard? I bet you do, is that a too personal question, I suppose it is really, hmm, ahh well, said it now” she prattled on, seemingly not even needing to pause for breath. Answers didn't seem to be required either. He held out his hand for the plasters and took the packet as she handed it over, all whilst still chattering away. Then he gestured for her foot and when it was deposited in his lap, halfway through a monologue on how ginger people didn't go grey they just faded so maybe his brother would get a Santa beard when he was old, he proceeded to carefully redistribute plasters. Having something to do with his hands allowed him to zone out the enthusiastic babble, also the mess she had made would have only created more blisters. Not wanting to interrupt her conversation he simply pointed to the sock in her hair, thankfully she seemed to understand and she plucked it out and handed it over. It was conveniently oversized so could easily be pulled over the plasters without disrupting them. Once the second foot was also checked, patched with princesses and some tubular bandage used in place of a second sock, Virgil called it done and released Jens feet back into the claustrophobic confines of her boots. This seemed to break Jens concentration and she finally took in what he had done.
“Oh you really are my hero, would you look at that, good as new! Cheers Virg, I owe you one,” and with that she bounded back to the axe throwing range. Virgil let out a sigh, enjoying the return of peace and quiet that settled in her wake. His coffee was now stone cold, the price of a good deed he supposed. The calm that settled after “Storm Jen” allowed the birdsong to be heard again, and the rustle of the leaves was almost musical with its rhythm. Virgil was just thinking how it differed from the crashing of waves on the island when Jen returned with a surprising display of stealth.
“BOO!” she shouted right into his ear, causing Virgil to almost jump out of his skin. If Gordon had been here he would have got video evidence to use as blackmail later, maybe even create a Gif out of it too.
“HA! You jumped quicker than a ferret up a trouser leg!” Jen laughed, Virgil honestly only understood half of what she was going on about at any given time, and that was clear on his face.
“Here,” she said, depositing a large takeaway coffee cup in front of him “since yours is probably more of an iced coffee now” Virgil spied the steam coming out of the gap in the lid, and the smell of roasted coffee beans made their way to his nose. Any anger at being startled instantly melted away and a dopey grin spread across his face.
“That's better, gotta keep you fueled, I think you’re the only thing stopping us lot from becoming an interesting footnote in the next lot of Darwin awards.” She ruffled his hair, getting a grunt in return, and left again as quickly as she had arrived. Jen was more observant then she let on, the string of qualifications really should be a clue, but the ditzy prattle was very good at muffling the academic appearance. Virgil suddenly thought that he should maybe be more afraid of Jen ever meeting Brains.
The rest of the afternoon was drama free. They had grabbed dinner at a pub - and nobody choked. There had been a few rounds of darts - and nobody was impaled. They had walked back to the holiday cottage - and nobody got lost. Although Virgil was a little suspicious that Sian, who was a work friend of the bride, might have been exaggerating the ankle injury that resulted in him having to carry her across the last field on his back. It had looked perfectly fine when he checked it, but how do you politely tell someone, who you're not related to, to “walk it off”? They had been so close to their destination that it hadn’t seemed worth the argument. Unfortunately she had quite strong perfume and had nuzzled into his shirt enough to leave him smelling strangely floral for quite some time after. The smell had got right up his nose, and caused a fair few startled sneezes.
His suspicions only grew when another of the work friends was found artistically laid out on the floor in the kitchen, claiming to have tripped on the rug and wanted to be carried up to her room. He really wished she hadn't been staying in one of the attic rooms. She possibly did too, when he transferred her to an inelegant fireman's lift in order to get through the narrower stairs at the top of the house. He left her with paracetamol and a glass of water, before making his escape. Not surprisingly she quietly reappeared less than an hour later clearly bored of solitary confinement. The final work cronnie declared rather loudly that she had something stuck in her eye, and would Virgil be a darling and take a look. He caught Jens amused look from the other side of the room, she was quite happily watching him squirm, and gave him a jolly wink.
Well, ever the professional Virgil did take a look at the poor girl's eye. Not surprisingly there was nothing to see. But he used a penlight just to be sure, and maybe just to stop her from pouting.
Once he was sure it was all an act, he let the little Gordon on his shoulder take the lead
“Oh yes, you're going to have to flush the eye out, come on, let's get you to the sink” A thorough rinse at the sink and she looked like a panda with mascara running down to her jaw line.
“There we go, bet that feels better. Right where was my beer?” and he left her dripping and slightly put out in the kitchen.
Jen caught up with him at the entrance to the lounge.
“Smooth. Very smooth, I like your style Virg my man. You do know she had paid for those individual lash extension thingies before coming, she's been going on about them since she got here, that and the rest of her beauty regime, which I might add, does not involve getting doused at the kitchen sink” she spluttered as laughter overtook her. Virgil tried to look innocent, but when Jen held her fist up he didn't hold back in bumping it with his own. “Also she insulted my boots!” Jen continued “ I mean, how dare she, what's not to love about these gorgeous bucket boots?!” she tapped her boot against Virgil's own footwear “Got them specially to match my anorak! Height of sophistication this is. Who gets lash extensions to go to the lake district, barm pot, I mean, did you get yours done? Although, maybe you didn’t have time after the fake tan - hey laddie?” she jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow. Yes she was definitely too observant, an Island tan did stand out in springtime England where the corcasian section of the population appeared to take complexion advice from a bottle of milk. Or as it was referred to on Tracy Island - “Spaceman white” (available at all good DIY stores in both matt or gloss finish)
“Right, now. I think there is a game of pictionary planned, and if you promise to be on my team I promise to protect you from the office crew” She stuck her hand out to shake on the deal.
“Throw in a beer and you’ve got a deal” countered Virgil.
“Shrewd business mind you have there, ok!” Jen grabbed his hand and energetically shook it. “But first. Attention everyone, it's awards time!” She fairly bellowed across the room “get your sorry arses in here pronto!” she punctuated this with some frantic clapping to chivvy people along.
Once everyone had been corralled into the living area, Jen took to the stage, or in this case, in front of the fireplace, which to Virgil's great relief was not currently lit. She dragged out a pile of handmade certificates decorated with star stickers and glitter.
“Right, first award, for …..Graham, give me a drumroll, look alive man, we need to build a bit of drama into this. So first up the award for “Most dramatic Zip line entrance” goes to, Captain fantastic, the Stag were all here for!” a ragged round of applause and cheering filled the room as the Groom was solemnly presented with his award.
“Up next!” Jen all but bellowed to get everyone's attention “ The Award for Dangerous Driving, side note ‘Least likely to be allowed in a Jeep ever again’ goes to Lara!” more clapping and hooting, especially from those who had been in that particular Jeep.
The awards followed on thick and fast with everyone getting some sort of mention, the bride even got awarded a paper crown, again with Jens’ trademark glitter and stars. Notable awards included, “most convincing Viking” for the axe throwing. “Bambi award for the most number of trips, stumbles and falls”, “Optimistic packing prize” for the girl who packed a bikini. Virgil was quietly proud of his “Hero of the holiday” award which had a footnote of “ for heroically saving us all from ourselves” across the bottom.
The next morning marked the end of the trip and by some quirk of the laws of physics there seemed to be more half open packs of biscuits and boxes of tea bags than people, so anyone who stood still in the kitchen for too long had a packet shoved into their hands to take home. Because, as Jen pointed out, you couldn’t just leave tea bags, it would be a crime. In fact she went on at quite some length about it. This is why he finally found himself back home on Tracy Island, ever grateful to Scott for a lift home, trying to find a home for a box of yorkshire tea bags in a cupboard that was perfectly proportioned for coffee.
“You look shattered Virgil,” said Scott, who was watching as Virgil struggled to shuffle the coffee packets in a way that would allow space for the tea. “Was it a good party?”
“Yeah, yeah it was. Odd, but good. Only I never knew it was such hard work keeping people alive.”
“You do know that's our job right” quipped Scott.
“Yeah, but honestly, that many degrees and qualifications and yet still they seemed determined to go the way of the dinosaurs, I was beginning to think it was a set up. It was exhausting,” he sighed, “I’m going for a nap, somebody put the world on hold for a bit” and he trudged off, leaving Scott to examine the certificate Virgil had stuck to the fridge with an amused smile on his face.
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How to care for your John Tracy
So, you want to get a John?
Before deciding that a John Tracy is the one for you, you must first realise that they take a lot of specialist care, time and attention that you must be willing to put in if you wish to get the best out of your John.
When taking on a John Tracy one must approach as you would a feral cat, making no sudden movements, do not attempt to touch or grab on first meeting. Allow him to size you up, get used to your presence and approach in his own time and at his own pace.
This could take minutes, hours, days, weeks or longer, there is no set time frame in getting a John to trust you, it varies from person to person. You must be prepared for setbacks and times when it might seem like an impossible task. They require regular reinforcement of their socialising, lots of praise and quiet support.
If you do not have the time, patience or love to devote to your John then we suggest you consider adopting a different breed of Tracy, they are many and varied. For a readily sociable one we suggest you try a Scott or a Gordon, both of which are friendly from the offset and easily tamed with the offer of food.
If a quieter Tracy is still needed but one that is less skittish than the John breed then maybe a Virgil is better suited to your situation. Or if you want one you can play with a lot, then an Alan would be perfect for you. A Tracy is a lifetime commitment so take your time in choosing the right one for you.
If you do decided that the John is still for you then you will find that all the time and effort you put in is incredibly rewarding. Once you have proved yourself to a John you will find that it will go from a hissing, trembling, retreating ball of anxiety to a purring, snuggling pussy cat that is happy to cuddle for as long as you wish and is, in general, a pretty laid back, chilled addition to your life and household.
Contrary to popular belief a John Tracy is not an antisocial being, this is misinformation that has been circulated due to their quiet nature and contentment in their own company. A John Tracy is by nature actually an asocial introvert (see below pictures).
Once your John Tracy is used to you and has adapted to your ways he will be the most loving, wonderful, affectionate, caring, engaging, sweet, adorable, funny and friendly creature in the world. When he is allowed to do so on his terms in a way that makes him feel safe and secure, of course.
A John Tracy does not hate people or dislike interacting with them, he simply does not do well in crowds and social situations in which he is not prepared or comfortable. Then he may feel overwhelmed and react in a way that society sees as negatively, although for a John social anxiety is perfectly normal and acceptable and should be treated as such. A John is perfect as he is.
Your John Tracy requires a safe and secure place that he can retreat to when feeling overwhelmed or over stimulated, but on the whole, if allowed to come out of his shell and interact without being pushed, forced or tricked he will be perfectly content. John's need positive reinforcement, kind words and to be made to feel secure and loved from the start, this is the only way to bond with one.
A John Tracy is a devoted, loyal and loving creature that is known to mate for life, as do most other breeds of Tracy. A Tracy is a delightful companion that you will not be able to live without once you have one.
Unfortunately, many people will just not work out with a John Tracy, the very reason that so many varieties of this breed are left abandoned in space stations around earth's orbit.
Many see them as hard to socialise and grow impatient with their John, wanting him to act a certain way in a certain length of time, none of which is conducive to a happy and healthy John.
This is often seen as a fatal flaw in the John breed of Tracy, but many John enthusiasts insist that that is part of their attraction. The introverted tendencies of the John is in no way a flaw, it is part of what makes this particular breed of Tracy so special and so desirable to the right person.
John's make very good companions and they are well worth the additional effort that you will have to put in.
John's are not demanding in the food department and you will have to be prepared to offer food at regular intervals as they hardly ever seek it out for themselves.
Your John will try to exist on a diet of bagels and cheeseburgers but this is not good for them and, as much as they may protest or go on hunger strikes, you must continue to offer them a variety of options in your quest to ensure they eat enough to survive.
The same rules apply to keeping them hydrated, they will naturally gravitate towards coffee and occasionally water but they need to include fruit juices, herbal teas and the occasional meal replacement if they have been in a particularly stubborn mood, which they are regularly inclined to slip into.
Nothing is more stubborn than a Tracy breed and the John is one of the worst.
Your John will take care of itself in the exercise department although, once bonded to their person, a John will often try to entice you, or can be easily tempted itself, into playtime and physical activity.
When left to its own devices a John Tracy will spend many hours running, either outside in nature or indoors on an exercise ring. This helps to keep them healthy and fit for their jobs, for all Tracys are working creatures, all highly trained in their fields.
A John will also enjoy playing in water, such as swimming or diving and some extreme sports if it sparks his interest as John's are very athletic and flexible.
John's not only require physical exercise but mental agility training too. They have a very active, inquisitive and engaging brain and enjoy problem solving, organisation and stimulating intellectual conversations.
John's like to work with their hands and are very good with computers and AI's but be warned, they are also very good at hacking and you will have very little privacy with a John in your life.
You John will require extensive housing to stay happy and content. He will require not only the run of your house with the ability to explore every single inch of your property but also his own specialist housing.
John's require a lot of space, both in the social way, the physical way and the outer space way. Do not deprive him of these essentials.
He will require access to both indoor and outdoor housing of the tropical island variety as well as his own space station.
Now this might seem excessive but it is a necessary part of having a John. John Tracys require extended periods of time in Zero-Gravity in order to both thrive but also stay calm and in control. John's like to feel weightless and to indulge whenever the urge takes them so you will have to be prepared to spend large amounts of time without your John in attendance.
John's prefer quieter surroundings to noise and will often take themselves off to hide if they are over stimulated and surrounded by other noisy Tracy breeds. You cannot stop this, it is part of the John's nature and you have to accept this if you wish to have one of your own. Attempting to force a John into socialising when he does not wish to is an unpleasant, cruel and unfair action and should never be undertaken if there is any other option.
John's also require a number of soft surfaces on which to stretch out, relax and be quiet. John's seem to require very little sleep and are very active both in body and mind for long periods before they crash out completely and need time to re energise themselves.
John's come in a variety of Ginger and Blond colours and are on the taller end of the Tracy spectrum. Long, lean and sleekly muscled the John is a beautiful specimen of Tracy breeding and very pleasing to look at.
Their hair is of the softest quality and, when a John is relaxed and content in your presence, they often enjoy it being stroked and petted, this pleases them and helps them to stay calm and sleepy.
John's have arguably the prettiest eyes of any Tracy breed, although lovers of the Scott, Virgil, Gordon or Alan breeds will beg to differ saying that blues and browns are nicer.
John's sometimes have a questionable dress sense when allowed to please themselves but their standard blue is figure forming and pleasing to behold.
Petting and affection:
John's can be extremely affectionate when they feel comfortable with someone. It just takes them a long time to get there.
John's do not like sudden movements or to be grabbed or forced into affection by someone they do not know well and are not already comfortable with. Unexpected affection from someone that is not one of their chosen people will cause them to freeze like a fainting goat and adopt the tactic of play dead until the threat goes away.
But when a John is comfortable it very much enjoys attention, affection and love.
As mentioned above, John's are an introverted breed of Tracy and allowances have to be made for them. They do not respond well to being forced out of their comfort zones or into interacting when they do not want to.
When a John wishes to interact they will be friendly, approachable and funny. They will happily join in with family activities and events but be aware that they may require additional quiet time after to recharge. This is just the way of the John.
Additional tips and information :
-Respect your John's boundaries. They will make it clear with body language if they are comfortable or not even if they do not verbalise it.
-John's are sensitive and they will respond with sarcasm when they feel threatened or attacked.
-John's cannot be forced into anything they don't want to do. They cannot be moved if they don't want to move. They cannot be tricked or cajoled, they are too smart, give up now.
-John's love their family more than anything and are fiercely protective of them. Never get in between a John and another Tracy breed. You will come off worse.
-John's have a death stare that might actually kill you. You have been warned.
-John's are generally very sensible, until it comes to a challenge between other Tracys, they are extremely competitive creatures and nothing will stop them.
-John's are logical and organised.
-John's do not respond well to blackmail, trickery, deception or engineered situations.
-A John is perfect as it is, never try to change it or force it to be something that it isn't.
-Being socially avoidant is only one part of his personality and it's only when you take the time to get to know him that you will see the rest.
All in all, we can highly recommend bringing a Tracy into your life, they are wonderful creatures and well worth your time and energy. Just think carefully before you choose a John as they require the most love, patience and attention.
(John pic curtesy of @misssquidtracy)
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